Publishing and a Truly Creative Mind

challengeI’ve been thinking a lot recently about the whole traditional publishing route for completed manuscripts.  I’ve also been doing tons of research on the subject to help me understand this whole business better.  And all this thinking and all this research has led me to the insight that for a truly creative artist, story-teller, and wordsmith, writing is the easy part of this whole career journey.  It is easy to write a book.  It is so much more difficult to figure out the whole vocational aspect of this profession.

A novelist has to be a salesperson to an extent, and for many creative minds, this isn’t easy.  Especially for the “reclusive writer” sect of men and women, as I find myself often being.  I am introverted and always in my head.  I can come up with the plot of a story in mere seconds, and I can begin writing it as soon as I get the time.  But when it comes to getting a work published, the struggle is real.  I have to break out of my shell on a daily basis, try to make connections, put myself out there, and sell myself, my ideas, and my product.

suit-hacks-for-salesmenOnce long ago, I was a salesman for a time, selling scam products to mostly elderly people inside Costcos and Sam’s Clubs.  This was completely legal but completely unethical.  I hated it, I hated it, I hated it, and every time I sold something, I felt awful about myself.  But it was a job, and I needed money.  As you can guess, I didn’t keep that job for very long.  To be a good salesperson, I think you have to be either completely heartless or you have to truly believe in the product you are selling.  Confidence is key.  And many authors lack that confidence, not in their writing perhaps, but socially.  This whole “getting-published” trek is one of the most difficult jobs I have ever experienced, and like I said, I was once a salesman for scam products.

3189I was also at one time an over-the-road truck driver, which in my opinion, is one of the most strenuous jobs on the face of the earth. God bless the truck drivers!  No, really.  They are amazing human beings. Alone 24/7 in the cab of a truck you call home, with no one to talk to but the wankers on the CV radio–the trolls of the pavement, and maybe just maybe some family when your available hours to talk coincide with the hours they are awake.  And then there is the schedule.  No free time in truck driving.  Very little at most.  Your work is literally your life all day, everyday.  It is a lifestyle, a very challenging way of life.  To say getting published is more trying than trucking says a lot about this industry I have chosen to pursue.

writenowIn conclusion, if you are interested in writing a book, of whatever kind, just remember that the actual writing part is the tip of the iceburg in the world of words.  So if you are pushing the creativity off, don’t any longer, just write.  Write anything, and write it from the heart.  Just do it, no matter what it is, let it out.  No more procrastinating.  There’s no time for that.  The hardest part of being a writer has yet to come.  Good luck folks and God speed.

–Ian

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Why did I write this book and how?

book-writing-ideasSo I wrote a book.  Big Red Yonder.  It took five years and ended up being over 500 pages and 363,228 words by the end of my third draft.  The following post is a brief summary as to why I wrote my novel and why I have spent so much time on a piece of literature that I am not even sure will amount to much.

For years, I had been living in a state of mind and body that has caused me exposure to what I considered after much reflection to be an existential crisis.  Enduring a seemingly endless stream of detrimental surroundings and unfortunate circumstances, I made the realization that the only truly reliable escape from the external suffering I was facing was the solitude of my psyche.  It was here, in the deepest realms of my mentality that my tormenting conditions transformed into a profoundly inventive state that I can only describe as being channeled by something otherworldly, or more realistically, utter desperation.  Whatever the reason, through the surge of my new-fangled inspiration and creativity, I dramatically poured all of my heart and soul into this literary fiction work.

Much of the story developed during my initial draft of the book came from a kind of stream-of-conscience method of writing.  I don’t know what I was thinking during much of the time I wrote this draft and much of what was written must have come from somewhere deep within my brain, either my subconscious or due to some kind of mania causing me to come up with ideas that I never in my wildest dreams thought would be written by me, let alone anyone else.  The numerous themes, stories, and situations within the plot of Big Red Yonder made sense in the first draft, surprisingly, but they did not fully connect to each other in an understandable way at times.

So in my second draft, I put all of the plot points together into a format easier to comprehend for readers and made all of the various facets of the book connect, make sense, and have a purpose in the story.  However, during this draft I did not change the literary style whatsoever. I made the decision early on that my unique style works well and separates me from other writers.  I don’t know if this choice will help me or not when getting published, for many publishers may not want to deal with a novel written in such a poetic and often crazy, for lack of a better work, style.  Who knows, we will see.

In my third draft, I went through my manuscript and edited the story a bit, deleting some parts I didn’t think were important to the story and adding others that I felt would better support my story and join everything together, making the novel a smoother read for others.  I also changed some of my wording to make the book more understandable.  However, what I did not change much was my use of punctuation or the general flow of my novel.  This is because I feel in many ways that my use of punctuation and my chosen flow for the book gives its a doorway to my individual voice as an author in many respects.  I’d like to think Big Red Yonder is written in an Ernest Hemingway kind of way (there are many other authors who do this, but he is probably someone everyone has heard of), where the silly rules for writing, the ones I learned in grade school, do not apply.  Again, I can only hope there is a publisher out there that sees the potential my novel has as a literary work, even with my atypical choice of prose and composition.

So yeah, that was basically my reasoning for writing this eccentric book and how I did it.  I hope for the best, but I never will expect the worst.  Big Red Yonder will be published one way or another, one day.

Literary Agent Rejection Letters

giftsofrejectionSo far, I have gotten two rejection letters from literary agencies and have not heard back from several others.  Of course, I just started sending out these letters as of last week, so I don’t expect all of them to get back to me so soon.  Nevertheless, rejection is always difficult, but in the world of writing books, it happens constantly.  I don’t take it personally, I just move on.  However, I am a little apprehensive about the state of the query letters I’ve been writing (for those who don’t know, query letters are the letters that writers send to literary agents to try and get them to represent their book and help them get published).  Am I doing something wrong?  I’ve been following the formatting guidelines that I have read about during my research on this subject, and I believe I am writing proper query letters, but I am thinking I could make them better.  Truly, I am unsure.  Perhaps it is just the book itself that the literary agents don’t think will be worth their while.  Or perhaps, there is something more I could do to reel these agents in so that they will want to represent me.  Who knows.  This is a journey and I am learning as I go.  If anyone has recommendations for me, they would be greatly appreciated.  If anyone has gone through this process before, I would love to hear from you.

–Ian

My Novel’s Unofficial Plot Outline

plotSo one of my blog posts was a synopsis of my book, but I just don’t think it did my book justice.  I have been having issues writing up what I feel like is a great summary for Big Red Yonder.  I have been sending out query letters to literary agents with a new and improved book synopsis (not the same as the one I posted in my first blog post), but I still don’t think the new one is that great.  Any advice is welcome for this!

Anyway, I figured I would outline some of the plot of my novel anyone who is interested.

-Two small-town kids with completely different personalities meet each other in elementary school because they are both outcasts.  Through that commonality, they become great friends.  They realize quickly that they have similar goals in life too: to get out of town as soon as possible and lead lives of great success (of course at this point in their life they are not sure what that success is related to)

-Cecilia is one of the kids.  She is positive, confident, and driven.  However, she comes from poverty and she knew from a young age that it would be very difficult to achieve her goals.  However, with perseverance, she knows that anything is possible.  As she gets older, her hard work and driven personality pays off.  It is not an easy road for her by any means, but she will get all that she hopes for with her great state of mind.

This character realized at a young age that she was born into the wrong body.  She is in fact a male at heart, and after deciding to take on this new persona, the small-town really doesn’t respond well due to its ignorance and unaccepting attitude toward unique individuals.  It all works out for Cecilia, who eventually changes his name to Cecil, and this can be attributed to his go-getter mentality and refusal to let others bring him down.

-Julian is the other kid.  He is pretty much the exact opposite of Cecilia.  He was born wealthy and the future he desired was completely achievable from the beginning.  However, mentally he is negative, unconfident, and in many situations quite lazy.  At an early age he takes comfort in substance abuse and as he gets older he runs into a string of bad decisions as his demons get the better of him.  He, like Cecilia, is a go-getter, and he gets close many times to achieving his goals in life.  However, his poor judgment and hostility toward himself as a person really affects the outcome of his life.  Julian’s life gets worse and worse as the novel continues, and eventually Cecilia is the only person who can help him get back on a healthy and prosperous path.  But can Cecilia really save Julian?  After all, it is ultimately up to Julian to change his mindset, his decisions, and his life as a whole.

-Cecil finds solace from his hardships in the ignorant small-town through spending hours a day in the local library with his face in books, taking him to places far away.  Through reading, he learns a lot, and as a result he eventually gets out of the small-town, deciding to get his CDL license to become an over-the-road truck driver.  There, his journey begins from being an outcast and a person with little hope for the future he desired, to a person of popularity and great prosperity.  Eventually, due to circumstances back home, he moves back to the small-town and opens up a non-profit organization under a new name, one that the town is unfamiliar with.  At this point his outside appearance mirrors his heart, and he is able to gain great success as well as help people of the town along the way, for the small-town has a huge illiteracy problem, and he makes sure that comes to an end.  During his truck driving days, he experiences wonderful and exciting adventures and when coming home he becomes an important asset to the town.  But will his secret come to light?  Will the town find out who he really is?  Will they accept him if they do?

-Julian graduates from high school with the help of prescribed speed and goes onto college.  There, he studies acting, for he always longed to be in the spotlight and his personality caused him the burden of the constant desire to be well-known and liked by the masses.  After college, he takes a big chance and moves to Los Angeles where he attempts to get a career in acting for movies.  Though he gets close to achieving this, closer than many people who move out there, Julian’s bad decisions cause him great heartache as well as the unfortunate reality of resorting to a life of crime to fuel his ever-growing drug addiction.  Will he overcome his demons, or will they get the better of him?

-I will not go into more detail because it will give away much of what I want the readers to be excited about, with the suspense and thrills that are to come.

-Hope this outline sparked your interest.  Comments are always welcome!  Take care,

Ian Cardenas

Author Bio

It seems that a lot of literary agents want an author bio.  So here is mine (for now):

me_edited

Ian Cardenas is currently a writer, artist, and teacher in Northern Virginia.  Once a scared kid with no hope for the future due to fears of stepping out of his comfort zone, Ian made great strides growing up to transform into a confident young man who believes he can accomplish anything that he sets his mind to.  Now twenty-six years old, Ian is working toward a Master’s Degree in Special Education and has recently completed his first literary fiction novel, Big Red Yonder.  In the past he published two books, a self-help book called The Rock Star Manifesto and a poetry collection called Nobody Likes You When You’re 23.  However, writing fiction has always been his true passion in life and finishing his first full-length fiction novel is on the top of his list of achievements.  Over the course of the past six years, Ian wrote Big Red Yonder under a number of challenging circumstances including financial instability, over-the-road truck driving, a plethora of hostile environments, health problems, and much more.  Though always remaining positive in the face of adversity,  his novel was at times his only form of solace.  As a result, his writing turned into something larger than mere literature, but rather a life-saving outlet that became filled with the raw emotion and creativity that is Ian Cardenas.

Unofficial Book Synopsis (will be edited)

bookHello readers,

As you can see from visiting this blog, my name is Ian Cardenas and I am the writer of the unpublished literary fiction book, “Big Red Yonder”.  It is a story about best friends, Cecil and Julian, individuals who lead very different lives but manage to maintain an intimate bond unbreakable by even the worst case scenarios imaginable. Their friendship is true, and true friendship is a sacred agreement that is everlasting.

In the 1960s, Cecilia was born a female, but inside she was anything but.  Julian was born a male, and though he was not the most masculine of boys, he grew up to be quite the model of manhood.  Cecilia was born poor, but through her prodigious work ethic and sound mind, she managed to become quite the success story.  Julian was born wealthy, but through his stark laziness and ever-expanding demons, he managed to become an indigent and destitute soul.

Being trans-gendered, Cecilia eventually changed her name to Cecil and identified himself as male. With his persevering spirit and positive approach to life, even through the difficulties that being human often brings and the countless trials and tribulations of being a peculiarity in a world so full of uniformity, Cecil was able to find great prosperity and solace.  Julian led a profoundly contrasting existence to his dear friend. Though he was given the world and all it had to bestow upon him, a progression of unwise decisions and a mind full of self-deprecation and unwarranted arrogance snatched it all away.

A story about judgement, this novel channels the consequences of choices and the substantiated ability an individual has to change the course of life itself, for better or worse.  Through compelling glimpses into the extraordinary personal experiences of Cecil and Julian, “Big Red Yonder” is a thought-provoking coming-of-age epic full of emblematic scenarios that are outrageous at times, serious at others, but all together meaningful and captivating.